Fire on Iron by Andrew Fox
I’ve been a fan of Andrew Fox ever since “Fat White Vampire Blues,” and “Fire on Iron” does not disappoint. The characters are fleshed-out and interesting, including some very memorable supporting players who cry out for a film version. The storyline is a far more original take on a supernatural” Civil War than a certain other book with vampires and a president, and the pacing moves at a brisk clip. Even better, the naval battles are well-written, exciting, and above all, understandable, with just the right amount of detail, never once leaving you confused or bogging you down in an unnecessary info dump. The only real complaint I have is that one character eventually goes off on his own, disappearing until near the climax, and I very (very) much wanted to see those “off-camera” scenes and that character’s journey as well. The character deserved it, and the book and its world would have been even richer for it.
What price redemption? Is martial honor worth the cost of one’s soul?
Lieutenant Commander August Micholson lost his first ship, the wooden frigate USS Northport, in reckless battle against the rebel ironclad ram CSS Virginia. However, Flag Officer Andrew Foote offers the disgraced young Micholson a chance to redeem himself: he can take the ironclad gunboat USS James B. Eads on an undercover mission to destroy a hidden rebel boat yard, where a fleet of powerful ironclads is being constructed which will allow the Confederate Navy to dominate the Mississippi.
But dangers far more sinister than rebel ironclads await Micholson and his crew. On the dark waters of the Yazoo River, deep within rebel territory, they become entangled in a plot devised by a slave and his master to summon African fire spirits to annihilate the Federal armies. Micholson must battle devils both internal and external to save the
lives of his crew, sink the Confederate fleet, and foil the arcane conspiracy. Ultimately, Micholson is faced with a terrible choice — he can risk the lives of every inhabitant of America, both Union and Confederate, or destroy himself by merging with a demon and forever melding his own soul with that of his greatest enemy.